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Aksel Sundström

Associate professor (docent).

Sundström's research deals mainly with the relationship between corruption in public authorities and the possibilities of effective environmental politics in low income countries. His doctoral thesis examined corruption in government bodies in South Africa that enforce environmental regulations. It used data from experimental surveys with resource users as well as in-depth interviews with bureaucrats.

Works as a postdoctoral researcher in a project studying reserves and parks that transgress national borders in southern Africa. The project investigates how such transnational institutions poses challenges and opportunities to reduce behaviors such as poaching and illegal logging. 

Apart from these interests, he has a general interest in comparative studies of political representation. With a certain focus on gender and politics Sundström has studied the presence of women in national legislatures, executive bodies as well as local authorities. He has, for instance, constructed a comparative dataset on women in local councils in Europe, as well as introduced a new measure of women's political empowerment, covering a global set of countries since the year 1900.

Funded from the Swedish Research Council for the projects; “Corruption in Natural Resource Management” (main applicant), “Climate Change and the Prospects for Economic Growth” (with Martin Sjöstedt (PI), Sverker C. Jagers and Pelle Ahlerup), “The Logics of Collective Action in Transnationally Protected Reserves” (with Sverker C. Jagers (PI) and Martin Sjöstedt).

Publications (peer reviewed)

25. Sjöstedt, Martin and Aksel Sundström (forthcoming) “Donor coordination or donor confusion? How disputed facts and problem framing affect the prospects for aid harmonization” Development Policy Review.

24. Wang, Yi-ting, Patrik Lindenfors, Aksel Sundström, Fredrik Jansson, Pamela Paxton and Staffan Lindberg (2017) "Women’s Rights in Democratic Transitions: A Global Sequence Analysis 1900–2012" European Journal of Political Research.

23. Sundström, Aksel, Pamela Paxton, Yi-ting Wang and Staffan Lindberg (2017) "Women’s political empowerment: A new global index, 1900-2012" World Development, 94: 321–335. 

22. Stockemer, Daniel and Aksel Sundström (2017) "Women in cabinets: The role of party ideology and government turnover" Party Politics.

21. Gustavson, Maria and Aksel Sundström (2016) "Organizing the audit society: Does good auditing generate less public sector corruption?" Administration & Society.

20. Sundström, Aksel (2016) "Violence and the costs of honesty: Rethinking bureaucrats’ choice to take bribes" Public Administration, 94 (3): 593–608.

19. Sundström, Aksel (2016) "Understanding illegality and corruption in forest governance" Journal of Environmental Management, 181: 779-790.

18. Sundström, Aksel (2016) "Corruption and violations of conservation rules: A survey experiment with resource users" World Development, 85: 73-83.

17.  Sundström, Aksel and Lena Wängnerud (2016) "Corruption as an obstacle to women’s political representation: Evidence from local councils in 18 European countries" Party Politics, 22 (3): 354–369.

16. Jagers, Sverker C., Marina Povitkina, Martin Sjöstedt and Aksel Sundström (2016) "Paradise Islands? Island States and the provision of environmental goods" Sustainability, 8: 285.

15. Stockemer, Daniel and Aksel Sundström (2016) "Modernization theory: How to measure and operationalize it when gauging variation in women's representation?" Social Indicators Research, 125: 695-712.

14. Sundström, Aksel and Aaron McCright (2016) "Women and Nuclear Energy: Examining the Gender Divide in Opposition to Nuclear Power among Swedish Citizens and Politicians" Energy Research & Social Science, 11: 29-39.

13. Sundström, Aksel and Daniel Stockemer (2015) "Voter turnout in the European regions: The impact of corruption perceptions" Electoral Studies, 40: 158-169.

12. Sundström, Aksel (2015) "Covenants with broken swords: Corruption and law enforcement in governance of the commons" Global Environmental Change, 31: 253–262.

11. Sundström, Aksel and Daniel Stockemer (2015) "What determines women’s political representation at the local level? A fine-grained analysis of the European regions" International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 56 (3-4): 254–274.

10. Povitkina, Marina, Sverker C. Jagers, Martin Sjöstedt and Aksel Sundström (2015) "Democracy, development and the marine environment - A global time-series investigation" Ocean & Coastal Management, 105: 25-34.

9. Halkos, George. E., Aksel Sundström and Nickolaos Tzeremes (2015) "Regional environmental performance and governance quality: A non-parametric analysis" Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, 17 (4): 621-644.

8. Sjöstedt, Martin and Aksel Sundström (2015) "Coping with illegal fishing: An institutional account of success and failure in Namibia and South Africa" Biological Conservation, 189: 78–85.

7.  Sundström, Aksel and Aaron McCright (2014) "Gender Differences in Environmental Concern among Swedish Citizens and Politicians" Environmental Politics, 23 (6): 1082-1095.

6.  McCright, Aaron and Aksel Sundström (2014) "Examining Gender Differences in Environmental Concern in the Swedish General Public, 1990-2011" International Journal of Sociology, 43 (4): 63-86.

5.  Stockemer, Daniel and Aksel Sundström (2013) "Corruption and citizens’ satisfaction with democracy in Europe: What is the empirical linkage?" Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft (ZfVP) / Comparative Governance and Politics, 7 (1): 137-157.

4.  Sjöstedt, Martin and Aksel Sundström (2013) "Overfishing in Southern Africa: A Comparative Account of Regime Effectiveness and National Capacities" Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 15 (5): 415-431.

3.  Sundström, Aksel (2013) "Corruption in the Commons: Why Bribery Hampers Enforcement of Environmental Regulations in South African Fisheries" International Journal of the Commons, 7 (2): 454-472.

2.  Sundström, Aksel (2012) "Corruption and regulatory compliance: Experimental findings from South African small-scale fisheries" Marine Policy, 36: 1255–1264.

1.  Martinsson, Johan, Lennart J. Lundqvist and Aksel Sundström (2011) "Energy saving in Swedish Households. The (relative) importance of environmental attitudes" Energy Policy, 39 (9): 5182-5191. 


Sundström, Aksel (2015) Corruption in Governance of the Commons: Consequences and Reform Challenges. Göteborg Studies in Politics no. 144. University of Gothenburg.

Other publications, selected

Sundström, Aksel and Tanya Wyatt (2017) "Corruption and Organized Crime in Conservation" in Gore, M. (Ed.) Conservation Criminology (Wiley).

Sundström, Aksel (2016) “Violent threats and the costs of honesty: rethinking bureaucrats’ choice to take bribes” [Swedish] The Expert Group for Aid Studies (EBA) DDB Report 2016:7.

Sundström, Aksel (2013) "Women’s local political representation within 30 European countries: A comparative dataset on regional figures" QoG Working Paper 2013:18.

Work in progress

Stockemer, Daniel and Aksel Sundström. "Can institutions pave the way for the young? Electoral systems and age representation in parliament". QoG Working Paper 2016:2.

Sundström, Aksel. "Not to be used during fire: Performance-related pay for civil servants as an anticorruption tool" QoG Working Paper 2014:11.


PhD, Political Science, University of Gothenburg, 2015.

Visiting scholar at the University of Michigan, Spring 2015

Courses during PhD-program at universities in Oxford, Michigan, Keele, Ljubljana and Vienna.

M.A., Political Science, University of Gothenburg, 2011.

Spent one semester at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and a summer at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.

B.A., Political Science, University of Gothenburg, 2008.

B.A., Development Studies, University of Gothenburg, 2008.


Young sustainability talent 2016, a recognition given to 33 persons in Sweden by the magazine Aktuell Hållbarhet

Awarded the 2016 Eva Selin Lindgren memorial scholarship (given annualy to one researcher at Chalmers or GU).

Received the "best paper" prize at the Swedish Political Science Association’s meeting 2014.


Work experience as a journalist, foreign affairs reporting.

Contact Information


Room, B431

+46 (0)31 786 1607

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